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Crumbs from His Table 


Sri Ramanasramam 



© Sri Ramanasramam 

First Edition 1936 

Second Edition 1937 

Third Edition 1963 

Fourth Edition 1969 

Fifth Edition 1981 

Sixth Edition 1995 — 3000 copies 

Seventh Edition 2006 — 2000 copies 

CC No. 1012 

ISBN: 81-88018-84-8 

Price: Rs. 

Published by 

V.S. Ramanan 


Sri Ramanasramam 

Tiruvannamalai 606 603 

Tamil Nadu 



Typeset at 

Sri Ramanasramam 

Printed by 

Sudarsan Graphics 
Chennai 600 017 



O Thou Spiritual Guide of Guides! O Thou Teacher 
of Teachers! O Thou Sankara Incarnate! O Thou Rama, 
Krishna Incarnate! Thou who dost dispel the cloud of 
ignorance — nay, the arch-destroyer of the illusion, the 
dehatma buddhi — by mere sight; who dost manifest Thyself 
in the form of Sri Sadguru to Thy humble devotee, be pleased 
to accept this humble dedication to Thy Holy Feet, and lead 
me, O Thou Shining Light, on to my goal and make me one 
with Thee. 



On the insistence of several devotees we have great 
pleasure in now reprinting this precious gem of a book 
which has been out of print for over twenty years. Sri 
Bhagavan used to like this book and often asked some 
devotees to read it. We are confident that readers will 
derive both pleasure and benefit out of this little treasure. 

84th Jayanthi of Sri Bhagavan 

31st December, 1963 PUBLISHER 


In December, 1936, I issued a small pamphlet 
containing some of the conversations I had had with Sri 
Ramana Bhagavan at Tiruvannamalai, as well as some which 
some of my friends had with Him in my presence. These are 
His spiritual teachings that I was able to pick up as they fell 
from His sacred lips during the few months I stayed at Sri 
Ramana Ashram in 1935. That the instructions reported 
were not only those imparted to me but also those conveyed 
to other enquirers explains to some extent the apparent 
inconsistency and perhaps illogical sequence in the questions 
and answers, and in some cases repetitions also. I have 
attempted in this book to weave them as much as I can into 
some order, but I am afraid a certain amount of mix-up and 
inconsistency (either in this book itself or other published or 
reported versions of Sri Bhagavan's teachings) is unavoidable, 
due to various reasons, which are: firstly, the enquirers belong 
to different schools of thought and varying stages of practice 
and progress, and the answers depend on the nature of their 
enquiry; secondly, Sri Bhagavan's attitude of indifference to 
assertions and affirmations; and above all, thirdly, the capacity 
of the enquirers to obtain a correct record of His answers 
and their subsequent ability to give good expression to them. 

Though Sri Bhagavan has repeatedly said in His 
authenticated publications and in reply to enquirers that the 
method of "Enquiry" i.e., "Who am I?" is the easiest and the 

most direct path leading to salvation, He has also nowhere 
and at no time deprecated other methods and paths — 
Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga and so on — as will 
be seen from his reply to a query under the heading "Self- 

Whether or not one were intent upon the quest of the 
Self or Truth or God, Sri Bhagavan's directions to me, to 
enquire within, as to "Who I am", appeared to be the most 
rationalistic and the first thing that I should do and know, 
rather than run after places of pilgrimage, which I otherwise 
contemplated, especially with the gift of free travel by rail 
that He has so kindly placed at my convenience. Remarking 
about a short trip to Tirupati Hills in August, 1 936, which I 
had to take on account of compulsion from a brother of mine, 
Sri Bhagavan said I might do it, because I could afford it. 
The obvious meaning of the remark being, that these visits 
were unwarranted and that I need not do so, in spite of the 
availability of concession of free travel. 

The uniqueness of His teaching consists in the fact of 
his insistence on the enquiry method from the very beginning, 
instead of waiting till eternity for the purification of body, 
mind and intellect. The enquiry straightaway gives one that 
mental quiet, as it were in a trice, which one does not get till 
after some years of Japa. Even such practitioners that know 
the meaning of 'Gayatri', the highest mantra, and repeat it a 
crore of times, admit this. If, on the other hand, one repeated 
just once the Gayatri Mantra with meaning and bhava instead 
of repeating "I will meditate thus, I will meditate thus," but 
remained still, confirmed in the meaning of the mantra, namely: 

"The Power which induces one's intellect in the various pursuits 
of life is the same as that in the Sun, which, by its illumination, 
removes the darkness of this earth and is the cause of the existence 
and growth of all living beings on earth" he would soon find 
himself as the light itself, bereft of body and form, perfectly 
still and thoughtless — a pleasurable experience indeed is 
this. What one would attain in this manner is also attained 
by merely probing the source of thought, the "I" thought, 
being the first thought, by asking "Who am I?" and waiting 
still' for an answer — carefully guarding against obtrusion of 
the sneaky intruder (the thought monkey). Sri Bhagavan's 
teaching can be practised in addition to, and without 
detriment to, other practices, and that from the very beginning, 
with immense and incalculable advantage. 

I issued, on the first occasion, a brief report containing 
the main instructions only and not the illustrative stories. I 
hoped that the taste of a few 'crumbs' would alone be sufficient 
to induce the readers to seek the bread of life itself at His 
hands, and serve my ambition to create such an interest in 
Him and His teachings. Since the issue of that leaflet, 
however, I have been urged by some of my friends and others 
to issue a more detailed account of my experiences, and 
especially more of Sri Bhagavan's teachings. I am therefore 
issuing this now to satisfy their very sincere demand and to 
enable others, who have not had the opportunity of reading 
the first edition of the book, to do so now. 



(1) Visit To Sri Ramanasramam 1 

(2) Nectar Drops 4 

(3) His Messenger 7 

(4) Some Experiences And Consecration 9 

(5) Living With The Master 13 

(6) Earnestness Or Faith 16 

(7) Control Of Mind 18 

(8) Control Of Mind Versus 

Destruction Of Mind 21 

(9) Self-realization 26 

(10) Obstacles And Hatha Yoga 33 

(11) Dream, Sleep And Samadhi 38 

(12) Resignation And Renunciation 42 

(13) Some Surprising Incidents 44 

(14) The Third Visit 46 

(15) Conclusion 49 



On 23rd December, 1933 the writer visited Sri 
Avadhuta Swami 1 at Sendamangalam, Namakkal Taluk, Salem 
District (Madras State, South India). While going round the 
idol of Sri Dattattreya on the summit of the hill, where the 
Swami has his cave, he chanced to see a photo of a very 
young ascetic, who looked like a boy just out of school, not 
more than twenty years of age. The penetrating eyes and 
youthful appearance of the young yogi captivated him. He 
was told that the sage lived at Tiruvannamalai (North Arcot 
District, Madras State, South India) and was a perfect Jnani. 

The author visited Sri Ramanasramam for the first time 
at 8 a.m. on Good Friday, the 30th March, 1934. He 
prostrated before Sri Ramana and remained in the hall till 
lunch, at about 1 1-30 a.m. Neither Sri Ramana nor any one 
else spoke. After lunch most of the visitors sat on the pial 
opposite to the Samadhi or Shrine of Sri Ramana's mother. 

1 An Avadbutha is one who has discarded everything of the 
ordinary work-a-day world, symbolised perhaps by outward 
divestment of even a loin cloth, and means a self-realized ascetic 
characterised by highest spiritual freedom. But this word is now 
ordinarily understood to connote an ascetic who has discarded the 
loin cloth and goes about stark naked, whether self-realized or not; 
this taking precedence over realization. The writer went to see him, 
therefore, partly impelled by curiosity to know how one controls 
sex-desire and remains stark naked and partly to obtain his grace 
by taking upadesa. 

Crumbs from His Table 

The writer told a gentleman seated near him, that he was 
sorry that pollution 2 stood in the way of his obtaining any 
spiritual instruction from any of the saints or sages, for 
during the last few months the thirst for it had sprung up in 
him. He had gone to Sendamangalam last December and, 
just before commencing the journey, his sister-in-law gave 
birth to twins. Also, on his way to this place he heard at 
Mambalappattu that another sister-in-law had just given 
birth to a child. One Rao Bahadur Narayana Iyer, a retired 
accountant of the Madras Port Trust, said that he need not 
feel worried about pollution or anything else as, pollution 
or no pollution, Sri Ramana neither gave spiritual instruction 
(upadesa), nor had been given any by anybody else. 

Because the author had recently visited the Avadhuta 
Swami in Sendamangalam, Mr. Narayana Iyer was inquisitive 
as to whether he knew of any miracles (siddhis) attributed to 
that Swami . He denied any such knowledge and remarked 
that he was impelled to go and see him, more to learn how to 
acquire sexual control, as the Swami is known to have moved 
in society for years without even a loin cloth, than to learn or 
to admire his so-called miracles. The writer added that he had 
heard that Sri Ramana and the Avadhuta Swami had lived 
together in Tiruvannamalai and if Sri Ramana could be 
persuaded to converse he could elicit from Him an accurate 
description of that Swami . The accountant, agreeing to this, 
conducted him to the hall where Sri Ramana was seated. 

2 Amongst Hindus, one is said to be under pollution for the 
first ten days after the birth of a child to any of his agnate cousins. 

Crumbs from His Table 

On going into the hall, Mr. Narayana Iyer himself 
asked Sri Bhagavan if He knew the Sendamangalam Swami 
(otherwise known as Kalpattu 3 Swami). He replied that 
He knew him and characterised him as a good vairagya 
purusha (i.e. a person with very strong detachment). As 
this term is supposed to include every other quality needed 
to dub one a saint or Swami , the writer suggested to 
Mr. Iyer that no more questions were needed. He how- 
ever would not stop there but asked Sri Bhagavan if He 
knew that the Avadhuta had worked any miracles. Sri 
Bhagavan replied in the negative; and Narayana Iyer 
prompted the writer to put some questions. Not know- 
ing what questions to put, he hesitated, but as Mr. Iyer 
continued to goad him, he asked Sri Bhagavan if it was 
not a fact that both He and the Avadhutha Swami were 
doing tapas (penance) for some time at the same place 
and Sri Bhagavan replied that it was so, under a mango 
tree on the Hill. He was asked to put some more ques- 
tions but the writer was unable to do so. Sri Bhagavan 
was all the while looking at him, as if awaiting to hear 
his questions. He could not, therefore, desist any longer 
and said, "I am desired to put some more questions to 
you and I am wondering what to ask." 

3 Native of Kalpattu, a village near Mambalappattu Railway 
Station. This is also the writer's native village. 


Sri Bhagavan: "Who are you?" 

D: I am Narayanaswami. 

B: Is it the body the mouth or the hands that represent 
the "I" you are talking about? 

D: The mouth, the tongue, the body, all together 
constitute the "I." 

B: (Pointing to the disciple) Whose body is this? 

D: My body. 

B: So, you are different from the body? You are the 
possessor and the body is your possession? 

D: I now realize I am different from my body, but I cannot 
however clearly see the line of demarcation between my body 
and my "Self." I cannot see Who lam. 

B: Go and put the question to your "Self" and you will 
know who you are. 

D.To whom is the question to be put and how? 

B: Put the question to your "Self," trace the source from 
which the "I" springs and the answer will come to you. 

The writer felt that, contrary to what Mr. Narayana Iyer 
and others said, namely that Sri Ramana Bhagavan was not 
in the habit of giving upadesa (spiritual instruction and 
guidance), He had actually given him something to work 
on. He was satisfied with this lesson and, having purchased a 
copy of His Life and Teaching (in Tamil), read it that very 

Crumbs from His Table 

night at the ashram itself. The more he read it the more he 
was attracted to Sri Bhagavan, and His example and teachings 
appealed to him more than any that he had heard of. 

The next day, in company with some of his friends and 
a close relation, he visited a scholar learned in Sanskrit and 
Tamil, who was for some time a Sanskrit teacher in one of 
the Local Board High Schools and who was living close to 
most of the places where Bhagavan was reported to have spent 
his early life. When the writer came to a place where 
Bhagavan was said to have sat in the evenings, he took a small 
quantity of the earth from it and smeared it on his forehead 
(as is usual with Hindus when they revere a person) and 
dropped a bit of it into his mouth. He felt "the very ground 
on which such a holy person sat was sacred, His footprints 
were worth all the spheres that rolled in the heavens." His 
relation immediately flew into a rage and protested against 
his deifying Sri Ramana, who, according to him, (as 
belonging to the orthodox school of philosophers) had 
contravened the injunctions of Manu (The Hindu Lawgiver) 
by performing the last rites of His mother. This is contrary to 
the established rule that an ascetic should have no more 
connection with his parents. Though not educated enough 
to be able to refute his arguments from ancient lore, the writer 
remonstrated with him that Sri Ramana was another Manu 
in the present day with all the authority to lay down codes 
for human conduct, but, in concentrating mainly on spiritual 
guidance, He was on a very much higher plane than Manu. 
Unfortunately, however, he added a curse to the protest, 
saying that his relative would soon reap the result of his 

Crumbs from His Table 

ignorant derogation of the Lord. Within less than ten 
minutes, on coming down to the plain, his relative tripped 
over quite a small stone and fell headlong on the ground. 
The writer was walking a few paces ahead and had turned 
the corner of a street, when he was recalled by a friend, to 
find that his relative had not only sustained an injury, but 
was lying unconscious in a hut, with one of his legs swollen 
from the fall. He ran to the spot, engaged a horse-cart and 
took him to the railway station, after rendering what first aid 
he could by dashing cold water on his face and giving him 
some water to drink etc., till he regained consciousness. The 
writer would like to leave his readers to draw their own 
conclusion on the connection between his curse and the 
immediate accident, inexplicable as it is to him even now. 

The writer does not like miracle-mongering, nor does 
Sri Bhagavan claim any supernatural powers for himself, 
but there is no limit to the number of persons who have 
attributed such things to Him. 

The writer visited Sri Ramana again on 27th May 
and 20th October the same year, staying for only two 
hours on the former date and for a day on the latter. Sri 
Niranjanananda Swami, the secular head of Sri 
Ramanasramam, casually remarked to him that if he desired 
to obtain the full benefit of Sri Ramana's Grace he had 
better make up his mind to stay in the ashram for a minimum 
of five days. He could neither grasp the real import of this 
suggestion nor was he very enthusiastic about such a stay 
then. He continued, however, to practise the "Who am I?" 
enquiry from the date he first saw Sri Ramana. 


On Sunday, 14th July, 1935 a gentleman, who is this 
writer's immediate superior officer, came to his house with 
a friend named Anandan (which means in Tamil, 
experiencer of bliss) and asked him if he could serve this 
friend as a guide to Sri Ramanasramam. This writer asked 
to be excused; however his superior was insistent and 
desired him to think over the matter and give him a 
final reply next Tuesday. On Tuesday this writer's superior 
offered to pay his railway fare to Tiruvannamalai and 
back, and at the time of the conversation it seemed to 
this writer that Sri Ramana himself in the person of his 
superior prompted him to go, to the extent of offering 
his fare. He therefore had no further hesitation in agreeing 
to visit Sri Ramanasramam and serve as a guide or rather 
make serving as a guide to his friend a pretext for visiting Sri 

He was therefore before Sri Ramana on the morning of 
Wednesday, 17th July, 1935. On the way, he was thinking 
that he could ask Bhagavan some questions to get further 
elucidation, but when he came to the ashram he was too shy 
and diffident to do so. One thing that frequently upset the 
tenor of his mind, or so he imagined, was living a married 
life and yielding room for lustful thoughts and actions. He 
dared not, however, put this question to Sri Bhagavan for 

Crumbs from His Table 

the reason that, if Bhagavan should reply that the remedy 
lay in quitting his house and cutting off all bonds of worldly 
life, he was not prepared to adopt it then. Besides this, the 
question itself seemed to him too immodest to put to such a 
holy person. Sri Bhagavan was not however to let him go so 
easily unsatisfied. 

A young gentleman very soon came in and placed 
himself in front of Sri Bhagavan. The very first question 
he put, kneeling and weeping before Him, was: "You 
have roused my Kundalini l and as a result I have even 
resigned my job; but in trying to pursue the Atma Vichara 
(Enquiry into the Self), which Sri Bhagavan enjoins, I 
am troubled with what appears to me an obstruction. In 
my village I am frequently attracted by a young woman, 
living opposite to my house. I am unable to control my 
desire. What am I to do?" 

Sri Bhagavan calmly asked him, "Who is attracted?" He 
replied "I am. Whenever I see her, my mind goes out to 
her and thoughts of being in her company etc., crowd 
into my mind." Sri Bhagavan asked him to put the 
questions: "Who sees and who is attracted? Who is 
disturbed by lust? In whom do desires arise?" adding that 
the moment he put these questions he would find all these 
thoughts taking leave of him. 

1 The divine sbakti (power) supposed to lie dormant in uninitiated 
and less developed practitioners. 



On the night between the 17th and 18th July, 1935, 
at 4 a.m., the writer sat for his usual meditation and as 
soon as he closed his eyes he had absolute internal quiet. 
This lasted for full thirty minutes, as his wrist watch 
showed after the experience. During this experience he 
felt as if a number of ants had been racing up his back 
and a mild and harmless fire was ablaze all around him, 
he himself feeling bodiless and merged with the light. 
The light was comparable to that of evening sunshine 
when there is also a drizzle. Tears had trickled down 
from his eyes. At the close of the experience he gave an 
exclamation and breaking from the meditation began 
to tell his beads in the usual way. He did not narrate this 
to anybody till about 8 a.m., when, due to the choking 
up of his throat and tears trickling from his eyes as before, 
he was unable to proceed with the comparison of the 1st 
and the 4th impressions of a few chapters of 
Mr. Paul Brunton'syl Search in Secret India. Sri Bhagavan, 
who noticed this choking of the throat and consequent 
throttling of the voice asked what the matter was. He 
then told his experiences of the early hours of the 
morning. Sri Bhagavan said that everything would be 
all right soon. 

Crumbs from His Table 

A little later when he came to the passage referring to 
Kumbakonam Kamakotipeetadhipathi Sri Jagadguru 
Shankaracharya having referred Mr. Brunton to two holy 
persons, able to enlighten him on the question of Atma- 
vidya, of whom Sri Ramana was one, he desired to know 
who the other person was and was given to understand that 
the other person was the late Sri Ramananda Swami, then 
residing at Mahadanapuram, near Trichinopoly, as reported 
by Mr. K. S. Venkataramani (journalist and author) who 
accompanied Mr. Brunton to Chingleput to visit Sri 
Shankaracharya. As the writer lived very near Mahadanapuram 
and, as he had already told Sri Bhagavan that he had seen the 
Avadhuta Swami at Sendamangalam, Bhagavan asked him if 
he had also seen Sri Ramananda. He answered that he had 
not but, from what he now heard, he was anxious to do so, 
adding however that his books led one like himself almost to 
despair of ever attaining salvation, as he had spent the greater 
part of his life in a way which the Swami would consider 
irreligious and sinful, lacking in both knowledge of the Vedas 
and essential practices of a Brahmin, so that he was not fit 
even to moot the question of mukti (salvation). He longed 
to attain salvation, but this insistence on the study of a vast 
ocean of Sanskrit literature, or any literature for the matter 
of that, appeared to him a stumbling block. He was anxious 
to know whether there was any way out of this impossible 
condition at his age and in his state of life and, having found 
what seemed to be a possible solution, setting at rest all these 
doubts, at the hands of Sri Ramana, he was no more inclined 
to go and see anybody else. 


Crumbs from His Table 

Sri Bhagavan said that vast study or high education 
was not compulsory for Self-realization 1 and that 
sometimes it could prove more a hindrance than a help. A 
highly educated Pandit has a greater samsara (family) than 
an ordinary man, whose immediate obstacles to the quest 
of the "Self" only centre round his wife, children and a 
few relations and friends. If such a one can, by constant 
enquiry, break these bonds, he is well on the path to 
salvation, whereas a Pandit has, in addition to breaking 
the immediate ties of his relations, etc., to break also the 
doubts and despairs which the various books he has read 
present to him, and as a matter of fact at one stage of the 
path it would be necessary to strive to forget what he had 
read. He added that knowledge of Self is True Knowledge 
and incomparable to any knowledge gained by study, and 
that Self Knowledge or Self-realization is not to be obtained 
by any amount of study but by practice only. The writer 
cannot describe what consolation and relief this reassurance 
gave him. 

The writer stayed in the ashram till Sunday, 21st July, 
1935 and then he said that he would rather not go back to 
his job but wished to stay permanently with Bhagavan. 
Bhagavan replied that He was not bound by time and space, 
and therefore the writer need not worry where he stayed, 
obviously meaning thereby that merely for the purpose of 
obtaining His grace it was not necessary to remain there. As 

1 Cf. The humble knowledge of oneself is a surer way to God, than 
deep researches after science. 

Imitation of Christ, By Thomas a Kempis 


Crumbs from His Table 

the writer had read some letters, from persons in distant 
countries, who had not so far seen Sri Ramana, saying that 
they had guidance from Him day after day, he was easily 
persuaded to accept this assurance and returned to his job 
on the morning of the 22nd. 

Before going to the ashram, a friend of his had given 
him a book of Spiritual Instructions by Sri Swami 
Brahmananda (of the Ramakrishna Mutt) and the following 
passage therein, on page 225, appealed to him so strongly, 
especially after his experience at the ashram, that as soon as 
he returned home he wrote to Sri Niranjanananda Swami of 
Sri Ramanasramam, that henceforth he had consecrated 
himself to the service of Sri Ramana: 

Ordinary people understand by the term 
Guru, a person who whispers some Mantram into 
the ear of the disciple. They do not care whether 
he possesses all the qualifications of a true Master. 
But today such a conception is losing ground. It 
is now recognised that none but a realized soul is 
qualified to be a spiritual teacher. He who does 
not know the path himself cannot show it to 



In the early hours of 14th September, 1935, at 
4 a.m., the writer was not able to obtain the usual internal 
quiet. He therefore mentally remonstrated with Sri 
Bhagavan that He had not showered His grace on him and 
that was why he was not able to consistently maintain his 
equanimity of mind. At that moment, however, he heard 
the still small voice within saying, "if you feel disappointed 
you had better come back to me." He did not make up his 
mind what to do, but left home with a determination not 
to return, until he had some solace from some Swami and 
could get back good concentration. It struck him then that 
it might be possible to get something from Sri Ramananda 
who was so near his home and about whom Sri 
Shankaracharya had spoken so highly. He therefore left for 
that place the same evening. Having missed the Swami 
that night, he stayed with a friend and in the morning he 
had a bath in the river Cauvery Soon after, when he sat for 
meditation on its bank, he not only had good meditation, 
but it lasted longer than usual. At about 1 1 a.m. he saw the 
Swami, who asked him, not what he had read, but what his 
experiences and difficulties were. When the writer narrated 
these the Swami remarked that it appeared to him that the 
writer had obtained manolaya 1 and should go in search of 

1 For the meaning of this see Chapter 8. 


Crumbs from His Table 

a Sad-Guru. He desired him to concentrate on Gayatri 
Japa. The writer felt very happy in his presence and enjoyed 
internal quiet. When the writer asked him informally why 
contrary to what he had stated in his book The Hindu 
Ideal, he had tolerated the writer (a modernised Brahmin, 
with short hair and lacking Sanskrit knowledge and 
orthodox Brahmanical daily observances), he said that he 
had only written his book to show the way to Self- 
realization, but that it did not mean that a person who had 
reached the stage the writer had, obviously due to past 
actions (karmas), should begin his education anew. His 
instructions were very illuminating and illustrative. 

The writer returned home on Sunday night with the 
feeling that he would get some visible confirmation of the 
Maharshi's call, and sure enough on reaching his office on 
Monday he had a letter dated 14-9-1935 (the very date 
on which he had all the trouble and the response from 
within) from one of Bhagavan's long-standing disciples, 
which contained amongst other things, the following 

By Bhagavan's grace, I hope you will make 
it convenient to come here at once, at the earliest 
opportunity, and earn His blessings in person. 

This he considered a confirmation of the message 
from within, and he therefore took leave for a couple of 
months from his employer, in the hope that if, within this 
period, there was any tangible evidence of further progress 
he would completely break the ties of family, give up his 
job and devote himself entirely to Self-realization. His 


Crumbs from His Table 

mother, who was then 70 years of age, wept at the prospect 
of his leaving home, a step which appeared to her like 
desertion. He then prayed to Sri Ramana to enable him 
to console her, and a Tamil couplet came to his mind, 
the meaning of which is that just as it is impossible to 
put a chicken back into the shell of an egg out of which 
it has hatched, so also a soul that has come out of its shell 
of ignorance, can no more fall back into it. With the 
destruction of ignorance, with the destruction of the 
illusion that the body is the Self, the soul can never 
come back to birth and death. 





(Faith is essential for knowledge) 

— B. Gita Ch. VI, SI. 39. 

When the writer visited Sri Ramanasramam last July, 
he saw an annotation of Sri Ramana's great work Ulladu 
Narpadu or Forty Verses on Reality, and desired to make a 
copy, but not having the leisure he left for home without 
doing so. 

So, when he came back to the ashram this time, the 
first thing he did was to obtain this copy from Sri Bhagavan 
and write out a copy for himself. Seeing him doing this 
writing with earnestness (sraddha), though with a certain 
amount of difficulty and strain (due obviously to his not 
having been accustomed to squatting and doing continuous 
writing work), Bhagavan told a story of a sannyasi and his 
disciples, to two of the long-standing residents of the 
ashram and a few of the visitors who were then before 
Him, to illustrate what is called sraddha, i.e., earnestness 
of purpose. 

There was once a Guru who had eight disciples. One 
day he desired them all to make a copy of his teachings 
from a notebook he had kept. One of them, who had 


Crumbs from His Table 

lived an easy-going life before renouncing the world, could 
not make a copy for himself. He, therefore, paid a couple 
of rupees to a fellow disciple and requested him to make 
a copy for him also. The Guru examined the copy books 
one day and, noticing two books in the same handwriting, 
asked the disciples for an explanation. Both the writer 
and the one on whose behalf it was written told the truth 
about it. The Master commented that, though speaking 
the truth was an essential quality of a spiritual aspirant, 
yet that alone would not carry one to one's goal but that 
sraddha (earnestness of purpose) was also necessary and 
since this had not been exhibited by the disciple who had 
entrusted his own labour to another he was disqualified 
from discipleship. Referring to his making payment for 
the work, the Guru sarcastically remarked that "Salvation" 
costs more than that and he was at liberty to purchase it 
rather than undergo training under him. So saying he 
dismissed that disciple. 

The tediousness of the process of copying might have 
deflected the writer from completing the book, but this 
story gave him not a little impetus to copy it entirely by his 
own hand and to endeavour strenuously and ceaselessly 
towards the goal sketched out therein. The story is told 
here to encourage other aspirants. 



(Mind alone is the cause of man's bondage and freedom) 

— Amritabindu Upanishad 

D: I have not yet learnt to control my mind so I 
intend to seek ekantavasam (life in solitude) in North 
India and want Sri Bhagavan's grace. 

B: You have come all the way to Tiruvannamalai for 
ekantavasam, and that in the immediate presence and vicinity 
of Ramana Bhagavan, yet you do not appear to have obtained 
that mental quiet; you now want to go elsewhere and from 
there you will desire to go to some other place. At this rate 
there will be no end to your travels. You do not realize that it 
is your mind that drives you in this manner. Control that first 
and you will be happy wherever you are. I do not know if you 
have read Swami Vivekananda's lectures. It is my impression 
that he has somewhere told the story of a man trying to 
bury his shadow and finding that over every sod of earth 
he put in the grave he had dug for it, it only appeared 
again, so that it could never be buried. Such is the case of 
a person who tries to bury his thoughts. One must therefore 
attempt to get at the very bottom from which thought springs 
and root out thought, mind and desire. 

D: When I spent an hour or two on the hill yonder, 
I sometimes found even better peace than here, which 


Crumbs from His Table 

suggests that a solitary place is after all more conducive to 

B: True, but if you had stayed there for an hour longer, 
you would have found that place too not giving you the 
calm of which you speak. Control the mind and even 
Hell will be Heaven to you. All other talk of solitude, 
living in a forest etc., is mere prattle. 1 

D: If solitude and abandonment of home were not 
required, where then was the necessity for Sri Bhagavan 
to come here in his seventeenth year? 

B: If the same force that took this (meaning himself) 
here, should take you also out of your home by all means 
let it, but there is no use of your deserting your home by 
an effort of your own. Your duty lies in practice, continuous 
practice of Self-enquiry. 

D: Is it not necessary to seek the company of the 
wise (the Saints and Sages)? 

B: Yes; but the best sat-sangam is inhering in your 
"Self". It is also the real guhavasam (living in the cave). 
Dwelling in the cave is retiring into your "Self". 
Association with the wise will certainly help a great deal. 

1 Cf. Men are continually seeking retreats for themselves, in the 
country or by the sea, or among the hills. And thou thyself art wont 
to yearn after the like. Yet all this is the sheerest folly, for it is open 
to thee every hour to retire into thyself. —Marcus Aurellius. 

Run hither or thither, thou wilt find no rest but in humble 
subjection under the government of a superior. A fancy for places and 
changing of residence hath deluded many 

Imitation of Christ, By Thomas a Kempis 


Crumbs from His Table 

D: I appear to get the same stillness of thought by 
tracing the root of the mantra which I repeat, as I would, 
if I put the "Who am I?" enquiry. Is there any harm in my 
continuing the mantra in this manner or is it essential I 
should only use "Who am I?" 

B: No; you can trace the root of any thought or 
mantra and continue to do so till you have an answer to 
your query. 

D: What is the effect of jap 'as or mantras'? 

B: Diversion; the mind is a channel, a swift current 
of thoughts and a mantra is a bund or dam put up in the 
way of this current to divert the water to where it is needed. 

D: Some time, after the stillness of thought intervened, 
I used to hear first some sound resembling that which one 
would hear if he were in the midst of or near a rolling mill, 
and then, a little later, a sound like that of a steam-engine 
whistle. This was only during meditation when I was at 
home, but here the sound is heard at all times, irrespective 
of whether I am before you or am walking round the ashram. 
(Note: The present experience is that the sound is like that 
of a humming bee). 

B: Ask who hears the sound. Repeat the question 
now and then. 




D: When I am engaged in enquiry as to the source 
from which the T springs, I arrive at a stage of stillness 
of mind beyond which I find myself unable to proceed 
farther. I have no thought of any kind and there is an 
emptiness, a blankness. A mild light pervades and I 
feel that it is myself, bodiless. I have neither cognition nor 
vision of body and form. The experience lasts nearly half 
an hour and is pleasing. Would I be correct in concluding 
that all that was necessary to secure eternal happiness {i.e., 
freedom or salvation or whatever one calls it) was to 
continue the practice till this experience could be 
maintained for hours, days and months together? 

B: This does not mean salvation; such a condition 
is termed manolaya or temporary stillness of thought. 
Manolaya means concentration, temporarily arresting 
the movement of thoughts; as soon as this concentration 
ceases, thoughts, old and new, rush in as usual and 
even though this temporary lulling of mind should last 
a thousand years it will never lead to total destruction 
of thought, which is what is called salvation or liberation 
from birth and death. The practise/ must therefore be 
ever on the alert and enquire within as to who has this 
experience, who realises its pleasantness. Failing this enquiry 


Crumbs from His Table 

he will go into a long trance or deep sleep {Yoga nidra). 
Due to the absence of a proper guide at this stage of 
spiritual practice many have been deluded and fallen a 
prey to a false sense of salvation and only a few have, either 
by the merit of good acts in their previous births, or by 
extreme grace, been enabled to reach the goal safely. 
Sri Bhagavan then told the following story: 
A Yogi was doing penance (tapas) for a number of 
years on the banks of the Ganges. When he had 
attained a high degree of concentration, he believed 
that continuance in that stage for prolonged periods 
constituted salvation and practised it. One day, before 
going into deep concentration, he felt thirsty and 
called to his disciple to bring a little drinking water 
from the Ganges; but before the disciple arrived with 
the water, he had gone into samadhi and remained in 
that state for countless years, during which time much 
water flowed under the bridge. When he woke up 
from this experience the first thing he asked for was 
'water! water!'; but there was neither his disciple nor 
the Ganges in sight. 

The first thing which he asked for was water because, 
before going into deep concentration, the topmost layer 
of thought in his mind was water and by concentration, 
however deep and prolonged it might have been, he had 
only been able to temporarily lull his thoughts and when, 
therefore, he revoked consciousness this topmost thought 
flew up with all the speed and force of a flood breaking 
through the dykes. If this is the case with regard to a 


Crumbs from His Table 

thought which took shape immediately before he sat for 
meditation, there is no doubt that thoughts which have 
taken deeper root earlier will still remain unannihilated; 
if annihilation of thoughts is salvation can he be said to 
have attained salvation? 

Sadhakas (seekers) rarely understand the difference 
between this temporary stilling of the mind (manolaya) 
and permanent destruction of thoughts (manonasa) . In 
manolaya there is temporary subsidence of thought- waves, 
and, though this temporary period may even last for a 
thousand years, thoughts, which are thus temporarily 
stilled, rise up as soon as the manolaya ceases. One must, 
therefore, watch one's spiritual progress carefully. One must 
not allow oneself to be overtaken by such spells of stillness 
of thought: the moment one experiences this, one must revive 
consciousness and enquire within as to who it is who experiences 
this stillness. While not allowing any thoughts to intrude, 
he must not, at the same time, be overtaken by this deep 
sleep (Yoga nidra) or Self- hypnotism. Though this is a 
sign of progress towards the goal, yet it is also the point 
where the divergence between the road to salvation and Yoga 
nidra takes place. The easy way, the direct way, the shortest 
cut to salvation is the Enquiry method. By such enquiry, you 
will drive the thought force deeper till it reaches its source 
and merges therein. It is then that you will have the response 
from within and find that you rest there, destroying all 
thoughts, once and for all. 

This temporary stilling of thought comes automatically 
in the usual course of one's practice and it is a clear sign 


Crumbs from His Table 

for the final goal of spiritual practice and being thus 
deceived. It is exactly here that a spiritual guide is necessary 
and he saves a lot of the spiritual aspirant's time and energy 
which would otherwise be fruitlessly wasted. 

The writer now realized that it was to get this 
important lesson at the right point of his progress, that 
he was taken, even unknown to himself and against his 
will, to Sri Ramana, through the intervention of his 
superior. He had come exactly to the position where the 
road bifurcates, one side leading to destruction of 
thought (salvation) and the other to Yoga nidra (prolonged 
deep sleep). A way-shower or a road signpost was 
necessary at this stage and the way-shower must 
necessarily be in the shape of a personal Guru, a realized 
soul, and perhaps by sheer acts of merit in his past birth 
and no "known special merit" of his own in this birth, 
he was brought before such a realized soul, in the person 
of Sri Ramana, to obtain these instructions from him, 
failing which he would have been probably groping in 
the same manner as the sage on the banks of the Ganges, 
in the story narrated above. The following chart will, 
perhaps, illustrate this: 

of one's progress but the danger of it lies in mistaking it 

Crumbs from His Table 
Salvation (jnukti) Deep Sleep {yoga nidra) 






"CS \ %> 






^ : 













in the Path 

Yogic sadhana (Practice) 



D: Can I get knowledge of the "Self," that is can I 
experience direct realization of the "Self"? 

B: Why? Who is there without a knowledge of the "Self"? 
Everyone has experience of the "Self". 

D: But I do not realize it. 

B: The fact is that all the while you know the "Self". 
How can the self not know the Self. Only you, the self, 
have got into the habit of thinking that you are this, you 
are that and you are the other. It is the wrong notion that 
produces or constitutes viparita bhavana of the Self at 
present, and that is why you say you do not know the 
Self. What is to be done is to get rid of that wrong notion 
of the Self. That then clears up the Self-knowledge or 

D: How can I get rid of that viparita bhavana?. Can 
any ordinary man get rid of it? If so, how? 

B: Yes. That is possible and is being done. There are 
many ways — Bhakti, J nana, Karma, Yoga, etc., are being 
adopted — all for the removal of this viparita bhavana. 
But the main way is simple. 

D: But I am ignorant of the method and of the 'Self. 

B: Who is ignorant of what? Ask the question and 
pursue the enquiry as to who it is that is said to be ignorant. 
Once you put the question, trying to probe into the T, 


Crumbs from His Table 

the T disappears. Then what survives is Self-knowledge or 

D: But how to get at that? Isn't a Guru's help needed? 
Isn't God's help needed? 

B: Why? In practice all this is adopted. But on ulti- 
mate enquiry, i.e., after reaching the goal, the method and 
means adopted are found to be themselves the goal. The 
Guru turns out ultimately to be God and God turns out to be 
your own real "Self". 

D: But isn't the Guru's grace or God's grace necessary 
for one's progress in the vicharat (Enquiry). 

B: Yes. But the vichara that you are making is itself the 
Guru's grace or God's grace. 

D: I request you to bless me with your Grace. 

The Maharshi remains silent for a while, showing that 
his very silent presence, in perpetual (i.e., sahaja) Samadhi, 
is an ever present help, which it is for the thirsty questioner 
to quaff and quench his spiritual thirst with. Then he said: 

B: Go on with your enquiry. 

D: How? I don't know how to proceed. 

B: Who doesn't know? You say T and yet you say 
you don't know T. Can anyone be ignorant of himself? 
Isn't that ludicrously impossible? If there were something 
else to be attained or known, then you might feel difficulty 
in attaining or knowing it. But in the case of the ever 
present, inescapable T, how can you be ignorant? You 
have constantly to fight out and get rid of your false notion 
ofT. Do that. 

D: In doing so isn't a Guru's help necessary and useful? 


Crumbs from His Table 

B: Yes, to start you on the inquiry. But you must 
yourself pursue your enquiry. 

D: To what extent can I rely on the Guru's Grace, in 
this? Up to what point is the enquiry itself to be carried 


B: You must carry on this demolition of wrong idea by 
enquiry, till your last wrong notion is demolished — till the 
Self is realized. 

D: How can I help others? 

B: Who is there for you to help? Who is the T that is to 
help others? First clear up that point and then everything 
will settle itself. 

D: As for Ishwara's (God's) help in my effort, isn't that 
to be secured by prayer, worship, etc.? Won't that be helpful? 

B: Ishwara's (God's) grace and worship for it etc., are all 
intermediate steps adopted and necessary to be adopted so long 
as the goal is not reached. When it is reached, God is the self. 

D: What particular steps will be helpful? 

B: That depends on the circumstances in each case. 

D: Which path is best suited to me? Won't all help be 
provided by God? 

B: Bhakti, Karma, Jnana and Yoga, all these paths are 
one. You cannot love God without knowing Him nor know 
Him without loving Him. Love manifests itself in everything 
you do and that is Karma. The development of mental 
perception (Yoga) is the necessary preliminary before you 
can know or love God in the proper way. 

D: Can I go on thinking "I am God"? Is that right 


Crumbs from His Table 

B: Why think that? In fact you are God. But who 
goes on thinking or saying "I am a man", "I am a man"? 
If any contrary thought, for instance, that one was a beast 
had to be put down, then of course you might say "I am 
a man". To the extent of crushing down the wrong notion 
that one is this or that, according to one's erroneous 
fancies, to that extent the idea that he is not these but 
God or Self, may be indulged in, as a matter of practice but 
when practice is over, the result is not any thought at all 
(such as 'I am God') but mere Self-realization. That is 
beyond conceptual thought. 

D: Doesn't that all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful 
God provide all that is needed for a man's realization? 

The enquirer's inner thought was — "Should we always 
depend upon the whims and fancies of a Guru, however great 
he may be? If so, where is freedom of the Self and Self-reliance". 

Quick and straight as an arrow came the answer from 
Him as if He understood the enquirer's inner trouble better 
than himself. 

B: Do not think that this body is the Guru (pointing 
to his body). 

D: I fear that Self-realization is no easy thing to reach. 

B: Why stultify yourself by anticipating failure in your 
course. Push on. There you are. Self-realization will come to 
an earnest seeker in a trice. 


In illustration of this, Sri Bhagavan once told the 
following story: 


King Janaka was listening to a philosophical treatise by 
the State Pandit, wherein a passage occurred to the effect 
that a rider who had placed one foot upon the stirrup, 
contemplating realization, could realize himself before he 
lifted the other foot on to the other stirrup i. e. , that realization, 
when it does come, would be so sudden and quick. He 
stopped the Pandit from proceeding further, and desired him 
to experimentally prove that statement. The Pandit admitted 
that he was only a theoretician and was unable to impart 
practical wisdom. Janaka suggested that the text was either 
false or exaggerated, but the Pandit would not admit this. 

Though he was himself not able to impart practical 
wisdom he stated that the text could not be false or 
exaggerated, as they were the words of the wise sages of 
the past. Janaka was annoyed with the Pandit and in a fit 
of rage condemned him to prison. He inflicted similar 
punishment on every Pandit who passed for a wise man and 
was unable to prove the scriptural text. 

For fear of being imprisoned, some of the Pandits 
left the country in voluntary exile, and while two or three 
of them were fleeing through a thick forest, a sage with 
eight deformities (called Ashtavakra because of this — 
Ashta = eight and Vakra = bends) happened to meet them 
and, having learnt their plight, he offered to explain the text 
to the King and get the imprisoned Pandits released. 
Impressed by his bold assurance, they took him before the 
King. At the sight of the sage, the King stood up and 
saluted him with great reverence. Ashtavakra commanded 
him to release all the Pandits. Janaka thought such an 


Crumbs from His Table 

imperative suggestion could only emanate from one who 
had the capacity to set his doubts at rest and released 
them all. 

The King and Ashtavakra then adjourned to a forest 
nearby. Janaka, then putting one step on the stirrup of a 
horse, asked Ashtavakra to prove the scriptural text. The 
sage asked him whether the position in which they stood 
to one another indicated the relationship of master and 
disciple. Janaka readily understood the meaning of this 
query, got down from the horse and, bowing before 
Ashtavakra, prayed to be taught. 

Ashtavakra then told him that a disciple should surrender 
himself, his possessions and all to his Master, before being taught 
Brahma Jnana. Janaka surrendered all. Then Ashtavakra said: 
"AH right!" Janaka became dazed and stood like a statue. 
Ashtavakra disappeared from the scene. Time passed by, and 
the citizens who were awaiting the return of Janaka, finding 
no sign of his approach, grew anxious and began to search 
for him. They came to where Janaka was still standing, and 
were surprised and dismayed to find him unaware of their 
presence and indifferent to their earnest enquiries. They 
looked out for Ashtavakra who, they thought, must be a 
charlatan who had worked some spell upon their King, and 
vowed vengeance on him. But as they were concerned with 
the King's condition and wanted to minister to him, they brought 
him to the city on a palanquin. The King, however, continued 
in the same condition. 

The ministers entreated Ashtavakra to remove the 
alleged spell on the King and bring him back to his normal 


Crumbs from His Table 

condition; at the same time the ministers charged him with 
the responsibility for having wrought the spell. Ashtavakra 
treated their ignorant remarks with contempt and called upon 
Janaka who immediately saluted him and responded to his 
call. The ministers were surprised. Ashtavakra told the King 
that he was being maliciously accused by the people of having 
brought him to some sad plight and asked him to resume his 
normal functions, adding that Brahma Jnana could be taught 
to competent persons only and as he had successfully come out 
of the test, he would impart it to him. So saying he composed 
the Ashtavakra Gita, the main theme of which is: "Brahman 
is not anything new or apart from one and no particular time 
or place is needed to realize Brahman? and concluded by 
saying " Tat Twam As? meaning "That Thou Art." That is 
the Self, eternal and infinite. 

The next morning the ministers saw the King call the 
assembly and perform his functions as usual. In the 
assembled court Ashtavakra asked the King if his former 
doubt cleared, as to whether Brahma Jnana could be had as 
suddenly and as quickly as mentioned in the scriptures, 
and if so to bring the horse and demonstrate the truth of it. 

The King was all humility now and said: "Lord! 
Because of my immaturity, I doubted the correctness of 
the scriptural text. I now realize that every letter of it is 

The ministers thanked the sage. 
OM! OMH OM!!! 



D: People practising meditation etc., are said to get 
new diseases; at any rate, I feel some pain in the back and 
front of the chest. This is stated to be a test by God. Will 
Bhagavan explain this and say if it is true? 

B: There is no Bhagavan outside you and no test 
is therefore instituted. What you believe to be a test or 
a new disease resulting from spiritual practices is really 
the strain that is now brought to play upon your nerves 
and the five senses. The mind which was hitherto 
operating through the nadis to sense external objects 
and thus maintaining a link between itself and the 
organs of perception is now required to withdraw from 
the link and this action of withdrawal naturally causes 
a strain, a sprain or a snap attendant with pain, which 
people term disease and perhaps tests by God. All these 
would go, if you would but continue your meditation 
bestowing your thought solely on understanding your 
Self or on Self-realization. There is no greater remedy 
than this continuous yoga or union with God or Atman. 
There cannot but be pain as a result of your discarding 
your long acquired vasanas. 

D: Hatha Yogic practices are said to banish diseases 
effectively and are therefore advocated as necessary 
preliminaries to Jnana Yoga. 


Crumbs from His Table 

B: Let those who advocate them use them. It has not 
been the experience here. All diseases would be effectively 
annihilated by continuous Self-enquiry. 

D: What about pranayama?. 

B: What about it? While I do not speak about it in terms 
of the well-known phraseology of purakam, rechakam and 
kumbhakam and of their matras (inhalation, exhalation and 
retention of breath in units of time) I have said that it can be 
used. Mind and life-breath spring from the same source; if you 
stop the course of one, you have automatically stopped the course 
of the other. Control of mind is easier than control of breath. 
The latter resembles the forcible milking of a cow and the 
former the cajoling of the cow by a feed of grass and caressing 
it by gently patting its back. 

Sri Bhagavan one day told an anecdote from the life of 
Prabhulinga while speaking on the subject of Hatha Yoga, 

Prabhulinga, the founder of the Lingayat sect (now 
mostly prevalent in Mysore State only), was touring the land 
for the uplift of the spiritually minded. He met the famous 
Yogi Gorakhnath in Gokarnam (a famous place of Hindu 
pilgrimage on the West Coast of India, a few miles south 
of Goa). The Yogi welcomed him respectfully but was 
proudly conscious of his own extraordinary powers over 
the elements. He considered his guest more or less his 
equal, expressed pleasure at meeting him and on his 
greeting him asked him who he was. 

Prabhulinga replied that he only who had destroyed 
his ego, root and branch, and realized "himself" could 


Crumbs from His Table 

know who he was and wondered what he could say to a 
nonentity, a person who clung to his perishable body. 

Gorakhnath, who identified his body with his Self, 
replied: "That person alone who has gained the 
immortality of the body by the favour of Shiva and 
consumption of Gulikas 1 will never die. Therefore one 
who has not gained such immortality dies." 

Prabhu observed: You speak as if existence in an 
imperishable body is your real existence and the death of the 
body your death. Evidently you appear to think that the body 
itself is your Self. You can only be matched by the ignorant 
masses {i.e., you are no better than an ignorant person, 
though you are a famous Siddha, a yogi). If the body be 
yourself, why do you say "my body"? Everyone speaks of his 
possessions as "my clothes, my gold etc." Tell me if anyone 
identifies himself with the clothes, or the gold, etc., and 
says "I am the clothes, I am the gold, etc." 

Gorakh replied: Men say 'I think, 'I walk etc. Please 
tell me what the T signifies in such instances. 

Prabhu: 'I think signifies association with the faculty 
of thinking. Similarly also in other instances, association 
with the body, the senses and the faculties is meant. If, on 
the other hand, T be identical with them how many Is are 
there? You are mistaking a superimposition for the reality. 

1 Gulikas are some medicinal herbs, supposed to be available on 
the Sahyadri hills near Gokarnam and which, some people allege, the 
famous St. Xavier, whose body still remains unperished in Goa, had 
taken, and the properties of which are supposed to so energise the 
body as not to let it perish for hundreds of years. 


Crumbs from His Table 

Gorakh asked Prabhu to explain what is meant by 
saying "I lose my life". Is there one life to lose another? 

Prabhu said: Life-breath is the real meaning of the 
word 'life' whereas the Self is also referred to as 'life' 
figuratively. Why do you seek your own ruin by 
identifying yourself with the perishable body composed 
of flesh, blood, bones, fat etc., notwithstanding the 
scriptural statement that the SELF is EXISTENCE, 
KNOWLEDGE AND BLISS? One who, disgusted with 
this body, the thing responsible for the interminable 
recurrence of births and deaths, is intent upon obtaining 
freedom, will look at this body with the same disgust as 
one who has unwittingly trodden on loathsome offal on 
the path. 

While the Wise pray to Shiva to free them from taking 
a body any more, just as a man would take medicine to 
rid himself of a malady once and for all, is it not a matter 
for wonder that you should seek to perpetuate the body 
by divine favour? Does not this correspond to a sick man 
taking medicine to perpetuate the malady? 

Has even one such glorified body ever been born 
which has not met with death? There never was a case of 
a stone thrown up that has not come back to earth. So also 
anything having a beginning must also have an end, some 
time or other. Only if there was anything that was not 
born could it remain without death. 

You have based the immortality of your body on the 
use of drugs and divine favour on no other assumption than 
that the days you would live with this body are interminable. 


Crumbs from His Table 

This assumption is untenable. Oh! You who are great in 
penance! Desire at least hereafter to obtain salvation. 

Gorakh could not be persuaded and would not budge 
an inch from his ground; he challenged Prabhu to try cutting 
his body, handing him a sword, long, bright and sharp. 
His body could not be cut, nor was Gorakh able to touch 
an atom of Prabhu when he was, in turn, challenged to 
injure Prabhu, in spite of Gorakh having been told to call 
to his aid his own strength and that of his relations. 1 
Gorakh, who was surprised at this, acknowledged Prabhu's 
superiority and begged to be taught Brahma Vidya. 

Prabhu then expounded to Gorakh Brahma Vidya as 

"Gorakh, conceive not your body as your 'Self. Seek 
the In-dweller (the cave-dweller) and you will once for all 
rid yourself of the disease of birth and death. The cave is 
only your heart, the In-dweller thereof is called God and 
'I am That.'" 

1 Obviously the strength of the qualities of lust, anger, passion, 
etc. which alone are born with one. 




D: How can one control dreams? 

B: One who can control them during jagrat (waking 
state) can also control them while asleep. Dreams are only 
impressions which have been received in the waking state 
and are recalled to mind in the dream state (i.e., semi- 
sleeping state as distinct from deep sleep — sushupti). 

Referring to what he saw in dreams, the enquirer 
remarked, "I could not understand what they were. There 
were huge figures with monkey faces in my dream." 

B: The Self is not limited; it is the mind which produces 
a form that is limited; that which has got dimensions is the 
mind and it gives rise to dimensions in others. The real 
limitation is in the mind. The mind is not different from 
the Supreme Being. A gold ornament is not gold itself, but 
is also not different from gold. The mind is a wonderful 
power, a mysterious power (shakti) of the Supreme Being. 
It is after the rise of the mind that God, world and jivas 
(individuals) appear, whereas in sleep we are not aware of 
any of these three. That is the mysterious power of God. 
but although we are not aware of these in sleep, yet we 
know that we existed in sleep also. On the rising of the 
mind we awaken from sleep. Consciousness and 
unconsciousness are with reference to the mind only. In 
the wakeful state we identify ourselves with the mind. If 
now we find the real Self behind the mind, then we shall 


Crumbs from His Table 

not have these limitations. In the deep sleep state, what 
limitations were there? 

D: None that I am aware of. 

B: That which says I was not aware then is also the mind. 
In deep sleep you are one with the real Self. That which 
appears in the interval also disappears. The Self always 
remains, whether in sleep, dream or waking state. It is the 
substratum both of the waking state and the sleep state. The 
different states of dream, sleep and wakefulness are only for 
the mind. Trance and unconsciousness also are only for 
the mind; they do not affect the Self. 

D: Will the Master say that there is no difference 
between the poet, the artist, the clerk and the engineer, etc.? 

B: The difference is only in the mind: according to the 
predisposition of each, the differences exist. No two 
individuals are alike, due to vasanas. The ignorant mind 
is like the sensitive plate taking images of things as they 
appear, whereas the wise man's mind is like a clean mirror. 

D: Is the Master here? 

B: Who is the Master? You think there is the Master 
here. You see the body of the Master, but how does the 
Master conceive of himself? He is the Self or Atma. He sees 
everybody as himself. Only if there is a world apart from him 
could he see a world. If the Self is identified with the world 
then where would be the world? There has been no creation, 
no destruction, no preservation. That which is, is ever the 
Self, the Atma. These appear according to each one's 
standpoint, according to the maturity of the mind, and as 
you progress further and further these doubts will not arise. 


Crumbs from His Table 

That which exists is consciousness. Consciousness and 
existence are not different. Existence is the same as 
Consciousness, pure Consciousness, Absolute Consciousness. 
You say I am conscious of the body and so on, but pure 
Consciousness is beyond all this. It is Absolute Consciousness. 
There is no question of transition from unconsciousness to 
supreme pure Consciousness. Giving up these two, self- 
consciousness and unconsciousness, you inhere in the natural 
consciousness, that is pure Consciousness. 

D: It is stated that the existence of the world is false, 
an illusion, Maya, but we see the world day after day. 
How can it be false? 

B: By false it is meant that the conception of the world 
is a superimposition on reality, as the idea of a snake is 
superimposed on the reality of a rope, in darkness (in 
ignorance). That is Maya, illusion. 

D: What is Maya?. Illusion? 

B: Seeing ice without seeing that it is water is illusion, 
Maya. Therefore saying things like killing the mind or 
anything like that also has no meaning, for after all mind 
also is part and parcel of the Self. Resting in the Self or 
inhering in the Self is mukti, getting rid of Maya. Maya is 
not a separate entity. Absence of light is called darkness, 
so also absence of Knowledge, Illumination etc., is called 
ignorance, illusion or Maya. 

D: What is samadhP. 

B: When the mind is in communion with the Self in 
darkness, it is called nidra (sleep), i.e., the involution of 
the mind in ignorance. Involution in a conscious or 


Crumbs from His Table 

wakeful state is called samadhi. Samadhi is continuous 
inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra or sleep is 
also inherence in the Self but in an unconscious state. In 
sahaja samadhi the communion is continuous. 

D: What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja 
nirvikalpa samadhP. 

B: The involution of the mind in the Self, but without 
its destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. There are four 
obstacles in this, namely, vacillation of: 
i. mind 

ii. life breath or prana, 
iii. body, and 
iv. drishti. 

In kevala nirvikalpa samadhi one is not free from 
vasanas and does not, therefore, attain mukti. Only after 
the samskaras have been destroyed can one attain salvation. 

D: When can one practise sahaja samadhP. 

B: Even from the beginning. Even though one practises 
kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has 
not rooted out the vasanas, he will not attain salvation. 

D: People say that even a Jnani is not free from the 
effects of prarabdha (the matured past karma). 

B: Yes; he does appear to others as if undergoing the 
results of his karma, eating the same as they do, sleeping and 
suffering from the ailments of the body. These aftereffects are 
just like the running of the flywheel by its momentum after 
the engine has stopped. But the Jnani is neither affected by 
this nor does he think that he is experiencing the pleasures and 
pains thereof because he has no thought of being the doer. 



D: I have a good mind to resign from service and 
remain constantly with Sri Bhagavan. 

B: Bhagavan is always with you, in you, and you are 
yourself Bhagavan. To realize this it is neither necessary to 
resign your job nor run away from home. Renunciation 
does not imply apparent divesting of costumes, family 
ties, home, etc., but renunciation of desires, affection 
and attachment. There is no need to resign your job, but 
resign yourself to Him, the bearer of the burden of all. 
One who renounces desires, etc., actually merges in the 
world and expands his love to the whole universe. 
Expansion of love and affection would be a far better 
term for a true devotee of God than renunciation, for one 
who renounces the immediate ties actually extends the 
bonds of affection and love to a wider world beyond the 
borders of caste, creed and race. Asannyasi, who apparently 
casts away his clothes and leaves his home does not do so 
out of aversion to his immediate relations but because of 
the expansion of his love to others around him. When 
this expansion comes, one does not feel that one is 
running away from home, but drops from it like ripe fruit 
from a tree; till then it would be folly to leave one's home 
or his job. 

D: Can everybody see God? 


Crumbs from His Table 

B: Yes. 

D: Can I see God? 

B: Yes. 

D: Who is my guide to see God? Do I not need a guide? 

B: Who was your guide to Ramanasramam? With whose 
guidance do you see the world daily? God is your own Self 
beyond body, mind and intellect. Just as you are able to see 
the world yourself so also you will be able to see your Self 
if you earnestly strive to do so, your Self alone being your 
guide in that quest also. 

God with and without Form 

D: Whenever I worship God with name and form, I 
feel tempted to ask whether I am not wrong in doing so, 
as that would be limiting the Limitless, giving form to the 
Formless. At the same time I feel I am not constant in my 
adherence to worship of God without form. 

B: As long as you respond to a name what objection 
could there be to your worshipping a God with name or 
form? Worship God with or without form till you know 
who you are. 



One day when all the visitors went to the dining hall 
for the midday meal a Brahmin youth was ejected from there. 
At the sight of this the writer felt disinclined to sit down 
for his meal; however he consoled himself and took his 
food. He was, however, so badly upset by the incident 
that he did not take any of the prasadam (small gifts of 
eatables frequently distributed at the ashram, after having 
been presented to Sri Bhagavan and a small quantity 
thereof accepted by Him) given to him later that day. At 
about 3 p.m., a monkey came and sat opposite to him in 
the Hall, and he attempted to give it all the prasadam so 
far collected. Sri Bhagavan, looking at him, remarked that 
if he fed that one fellow hundreds of other idlers would 
pour into the ashram and it would be converted from a 
place of retreat for sadhakas, Jnanis and Yogis, to an idlers' 
asylum. Anyone connecting such a plain remark as this 
with the writer's mental attitude cannot but conclude 
that Bhagavan wanted to convey consolation to his 
disturbed mind and convince him that He has destined 
everything for everybody, and it was utterly useless for 
him to identify himself with such miseries and worry 
himself in vain over His actions. 

2. The writer was about to put a question to Sri Bhagavan 
and just as he began doing so, Sri Bhagavan answered him 


Crumbs from His Table 
by referring him to page 73, para. 2 of Mr. Brunton's Secret 
Path and remarked that, as stated therein, speech only 
beclouded argument and disturbed the silent communication 
of thought. 

3. Sri Bhagavan was correcting and aiding some young- 
sters of not more than ten years of age in memorising His 
Sanskrit work, Upadesa Saram, and the writer was laughing, 
so to say, up his sleeve, at the futility of coaching these 
youngsters who could not understand the A-B-C of this 
highly metaphysical poetry. Without the utterance of a 
single word, Sri Bhagavan turned to him and remarked 
that though these children might not understand the 
meaning of these poems then, yet they would be of immense 
help to them, and would be recalled with great relief and 
pleasure, when they came of age and were in difficulties. 



The writer used to have always two conflicting desires, 
one to visit Sri Bhagavan as frequently as possible, the other 
to postpone it as long as he could till he felt he had some 
tangible evidence of progress. In the meanwhile, however, 
through some agency or other, he was pushed before Him, 
obviously through His grace. The first time it was through 
his immediate superior, the second was through the telepathic 
command, confirmed on the same day by a letter from one 
of His long-standing disciples, and this time it was again an 
officer in Government service who suggested that he would 
feel it a pleasure to visit the ashram in his company, or rather 
an indirect suggestion to him that he had better place himself 
before Sri Bhagavan at an early date. 

This time he took leave for fifteen days and stayed with 
Sri Bhagavan. Conscious of his own retrogression and want 
of steadfastness in his yama and niyama 1 he did not sit or 
stand before Sri Bhagavan this time, as continuously as he 
used to do on former occasions. Sri Bhagavan would however 
peep into his room in His usual rounds at about 10 a.m. and 
3-30 p.m. and make various enquiries. During this time he 
was living on coffee and rice-cakes in the morning, one or 
two handfuls of plain cooked vegetables in the afternoon 
and a cup of milk at night. About ten days after his arrival, 

1 Moral discipline considered preliminary to spiritual practice. 


Crumbs from His Table 

one fine morning, the writer was accosted by Sri Bhagavan 
with the following query: "Is coffee and iddly all you need in 
the morning?", the obvious meaning of this remark being 
that there was no need for such austerity on the part of His 
disciples, i.e., for those who had taken to vichara (enquiry). 
For the further enlightenment of aspirants it might be stated 
here that Sri Bhagavan has often remarked that all that is 
required is that aspirants should take, in very moderate 
quantities, whatever food comes their way and not stipulate, 
discriminate or pick and choose in the matter of diet; that, 
in contrast to the claim of hatha yogis that yoga practice is 
necessary to ward off disease from the physical body and 
make it pure and healthy to help concentration etc. The 
enquiry method, if followed strictly as directed, with absolute 
one-pointedness of mind, is capable of devouring all the germs of 
disease wherever and whenever they arise. He would appear 
also to be of the view that for such an enquirer, yama and 
niyama will automatically come, as in His own case. He said 
that when He was staying in Gurumurtham for 18 months 
His diet was only one cup of milk-mixture for the whole day. 
His insistence is on continuous one-pointed enquiry and it is 
also apparent even to a beginner that such an enquiry, like 
thailadhara (unbroken flow of oil), would automatically 
ensure a steady asana, freedom from hunger and thirst and 
freedom from disease; only a beginner cannot easily obtain 
this state and has to contend with his vacillating tendencies. 
During this visit the writer had another surprise from Sri 
Bhagavan. A well educated unemployed youth was regularly 
attending the ashram. He was so steady in his meditative 


Crumbs from His Table 

posture and so continuous for hours together that some, if not 
all, appeared almost envious of his rapid progress. Perhaps to 
set our doubts at rest, Sri Bhagavan was heard to remark one 
day that the boy was not meditating upon God or Self, but 
praying to Him (Sri Ramana) for His grace to get a job and 
added that worldly people desirous of obtaining fulfilment of 
their desires should seek them where they were available and 
that He could not do anything for his employment. "Do I 
give jobs to people here? I am a sannyasi without any possession 
or work." The youth who had heard most of the conversation, 
though he appeared outwardly oblivious to what was going 
on around him, acknowledged later that what Sri Bhagavan 
said was absolutely correct. 

At the end of his stay, the writer took a trip to Tirupati, 
Kalahasti, etc. and Sri Bhagavan, who did not appear to look 
with favour on such tours by one who, for all purposes, appeared 
to be convinced of the efficacy of the 'Who am I?' enquiry 
method, and of the secondary value of worship of images, 
japas or mantras, etc., dismissed him with a simple "Yes, yes" 
when he took leave. This unspoken but well understood 
disapproval and the loftiness of His own teaching haunted the 
writer's mind all through his tour of the Seven Hills, the 
Papavinasam Falls, Kalahasti, the Sri Vyasa Ashram, Yerpedu, 
the Kailasanatha Konai (Waterfalls), the Nagari Buggi Temple 
and waterfalls, the Tiruttani Temple and so on. Therefore, 
when on his way home he was again standing before Sri 
Bhagavan, he was quaking. But fortunately, a smiling 
countenance and a remark from Sri Bhagavan, that they were 
just then talking about him and found him in the precincts so 
soon after the close of the talk, consoled him not a little. 



Before finishing this account of the writer's 
experiences and recollections of Sri Bhagavan's teachings 
for his own benefit and that of other aspirants, the writer 
would like to add one or two cautions against shallow 
and superficial impressions which some visitors to the 
ashram carry with them and which act sometimes as great 
pitfalls in one's spiritual practice. 

A Tamil Pandit who was a visitor to the ashram about 
December, 1936 asked the writer why, with all his talk of 
Sri Bhagavan's universal love, the writer should choose 
not to take his food in company with the Maharshi and 
his other devotees, irrespective of caste, creed or race. 
The writer reminded him of the story of Sri Shankaracharya 
and His disciples and added that all the vehicles he sees, 
whether bullock cart, motor, tram or train, require some 
form of roadway, but while the bullock cart could pass 
over any road, mud or sand, if only the scrub was cleared, 
the motor car would require an up-to-date macadam road, 
and the railway engine costing over a lakh of rupees and 
moving at sixty miles an hour, would require not only 
two well laid rails, but also their fish-bolts tightly screwed, 
yet an aeroplane does not require a road of any kind; it 
knows its path and goal and does not mind how it turns or 
twists in the air; so also, as long as one has to move in this 


Crumbs from His Table 

world, one has to be bound by some law, some custom, 
whether that custom is agreeable or not to one at the 
particular period and as long as an equitable change cannot 
be introduced, it appeared to the writer that unless he 
were to be a party to the creation of chaotic conditions, 
he had to stick to some forms. 

The writer was reminded also of an article that he 
had read ten years ago in connection with what 
Mohammed the Prophet is reported to have told his wife 
soon after he had his illumination (Vide page 13, The 
World Liberator, dated June, 1927, edited by George 
Chainey, 362 Ximeno Ave., Long Beach, California). 
Mohammed said: "That by the unspeakable special favour 
of Heaven he had now found it all out, was in doubt 
and darkness no longer, but saw it all. That all these 
idols and formulas were nothing, (but) miserable bits of 
wood; that there was one God in and over all, and we 
must leave all idols and look to Him. That God is great, 
and that there is nothing else great. He is the Reality. 
Wooden idols are not real; He is real." 

The crown of all philosophies, the Upanishads, affirm 
over and over this one great ideal, the central ideal, and so 
does Sri Ramana. The writer's only prayer is that the 
misfortune that befell the idols of this country may not 
be repeated again by unripe and immature aspirants 
copying Sri Bhagavan's method of eating, and not his 
otherwise continuous tapas for years without any thought of 
food or drink. If such distinctions and differences distract 
our eye from the chief object of worship and adoration, 


Crumbs from His Table 

we should only reflect on what has happened in the past. 
This question had been openly mooted and with a certain 
amount of feeling of hatred of the so-called abortive 
custom the writer has had to quote this here. Sri Bhagavan 
is comparable to the aeroplane, but persons like the writer 
are no better than the best of the locomotives, which 
after all require and have to follow some path laid down 
for them. 

There is also the danger of some aspirants paying no 
heed to the restraint of jnanendriyas and karmendriyas and 
to developing love for all beings, compassion, charity, 
humility and what not. Though Sri Bhagavan appears 
not to repeat these things ad nauseam, yet if one reads 
carefully all his short works (as brief as His spoken words 
are, but full of meaning), it will be apparent that instead 
of brushing them aside, He has enjoined a life of purity 
and charity. (Vide stanza 5 of the Arunachala Ashtakam, 
etc.) The need for this will also crop up again and again in 
the life and practice of aspirants, if one really sits down in 
earnest for the enquiry. 

Sri Bhagavan, having become one with the Absolute, 
His one repeated insistence is to realize the Self. With Him 
"To love God is to realize Him". Realization is parabhakti. 
Realization that God and Self are one would certainly lead 
to realization of the universality of the soul and remove all 
hatred, jealousy, war and what not. But before realizing 
this and conforming to His greatest teaching, it would be 
useless, nay injurious, to think and talk about minor details 
pertaining to the ordinary workaday world. If one misses 


Crumbs from His Table 

the central theme of His teaching, which is the same as any 
great prophet's teaching but made more plain, brief and 
straightforward, we miss the unique revelation of the Master, 
born anew and enriched by the Universe, Sri Ramana the 

It is obviously with a view to avoid jarring disputes 
and discussions that He disclaims any name, pronounces 
no dogmatic theories, calls on no one to worship any of the 
innumerable Gods of any religion: herein lies the affirmation 
of his enriched experience of the Self. A sannyasi came from 
somewhere near Madurai and asked Sri Bhagavan to put 
His name in a notebook intended to raise collections for a 
choultry or something. He asks: "What is my name?" 
The Swami states: "Sri Ramana." 
Sri Bhagavan: "You say so: I have no name." 
Put whatever question you like — just as one friend 
asked what happens to life after death — and you get a 
reply, "'What happens to whom?' 'Who are you?' and 
'Who dies?' 'You never die.'" 

The writer was late one day in getting up from bed 
and missed prostrating before Sri Bhagavan the first thing 
in the morning. He, however, met Him on his way to the 
bathing tank and prostrated before Him. Sri Bhagavan 
asked him, "Why? Why this prostration of one material 
body before another? Who prostrates? Before whom? There 
is no Guru, no disciple. Realize who you are." His one 
attempt would appear to be to always bring home to His 
questioners, devotees and disciples the central theme of 
His realization, namely the identity of God and Self. 


Crumbs from His Table 

There are several more anecdotes, of an instructive 
character which have not been recorded herein for fear of 
enlarging this volume; and, as Sri Bhagavan is very sparing 
of his words, it would really be a hard task to collect 
voluminous material, however long one might attend the 
ashram and however eager one may be to collect all that 
falls from His lips; so if any aspirant has been stirred by 
the few episodes and conversations, which have been 
recorded here, the writer can only invite him in the words 
of the author of the Katha Upanishad (III: 14) to: 

»^ "S 

Awake! Arise! (and) Seek the Great One, 

Sri Ramana, the Great, 

Taste the bread of life at His hands, 

And obtain wisdom. 


Sri Ramanarapanamastu